Valquiria Vita left everything behind at the end of 2011. Her house, family, and job to move to Pittsburg, Kansas.
I was born in Brazil, and I lived in the country for 24 years. I found a good exchange program, saved some money, packed all my stuff and took a plane to United States. My destination was not very familiar or very fancy. Actually, I had no idea what I was getting into, I just wanted to leave and do something different with my life.
I ended up in Pittsburg, not the one in Pennsylvania, but Pittbsurg, Kansas, home of 19,000 people. A place where the top 3 activities are hunting, eating fried chicken and tailgating before watching the Gorillas football games.
You might think an exchange program in Pittsburg State University, Kansas, in the middle of nowhere, like some people used to say, was boring. It wasn’t. I fell in love with Pittsburg in the minute I got there, and I knew whenever I had to leave that small town, I would never be the same. And I knew that place would keep a piece of my heart forever. And so it did.
I met the most amazing people in Pittsburg. The first ones, international students like me, who left everything in their countries to try a new experience in the country where many people dream about living. I don’t think the American students understood what is to be an international student and the courage that demands. So I was always very open and interested on getting to know other internationals. I made friends from all the continents in the world, and I met Brazilian people from other universities, that became my closest friends. Besides, I made some really good American friends. It was so much fun living with them all the things I have seen in movies, like watching baseball or eating turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy.
During my first week in Pittsburg State University, i asked for a job in the college newspaper. Since I was graduated in Journalism, they gave me a chance – although I had never written anything in English. I loved the job. I kept all my stories, and I wrote so many of them, that after the Summer I became managing editor. It was working for this paper that we created a section named People of Pittsburg, a weekly feature story to show the life of a person of the community With these stories I met the most amazing people, like a guy who had a goat as a pet, named Emma, for example. This work experience proved me that language is not an obstacle. You learn and you get used to anything. That is one thing I learned during this year. I also learned that traveling is the best thing you can do with your life. During break from my Communication classes I had the chance to visit cities from Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, besides L.A., Vegas, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Chicago, New York and Washington. I’ll keep the photographs and the memories of these trips forever.
The images of the people I met I will also keep forever. I wrote here before I fell in love with Pittsburg, but I also fell in love with a Brazilian in Pittsburg. I met my boyfriend there, and we dated during the whole year I stayed in the US. It’s ironic how two Brazilians from the same state met each other when they were both very far away from home. It was so hard to say goodbye to him, that in December, when I left, I didn’t know if I was crying more because of him or because of the town I loved so much.
It’s been more than a month since I came back home, and there was no day that passed by without I had cried at least a little bit, missing that little piece of Kansas, where I had the most amazing experiences. Whenever I get sad, I remember how lucky I am to have lived this, and I am thankful to the opportunity of this exchange program – that I recommend to everyone who thinks life can be more than you are used to.